Slow Cooker Carnitas

Slow Cooker Carnitas come together in the crockpot where pork is braised in an aromatic broth, cubed, and finished off under the broiler, resulting in succulent, caramelized carnitas that are delicious in tacos or as a filling for burritos, enchiladas, quesadillas, and more!

Slow Cooker Carnitas Tacos (or Mexican Pulled Pork) with Text Overlay


I've officially decided that May is one of the best months of the year. Spring is in full swing with the promise of summer beckoning, but before the excruciating heat sets in (yet). The school year is winding down and thoughts are turning to camps, swimming, vacation plans, and no more school lunches to pack for the immediate future (can I hear an AMEN?!). And on the 5th of May, we get to gorge ourselves on all of our favorite Mexican cuisine and beverages in observance of Cinco de Mayo! (Did somebody say Slow Cooker Carnitas?!)

Open Faced Slow Cooker Carnitas Tacos (or Mexican Pulled Pork) in Corn Tortilla with a Dollop of Sour Cream and Garnish of Cilantro

Now I already waxed poetic about Cinco de Mayo the other day, and I believe we established my love of Mexican food (or around here, Tex-Mex) long ago. So what say I curtail the chit chat and get on with the recipe?

Y'all know I love a good crock pot dinner, and this is a newer one in my repertoire. I've already shared my family favorite Slow Cooker Chicken and Black Bean Tacos, but today I have a different spin on tacos for you.

Aerial View of Bowl Full of Cooked Pork

What Are Carnitas?

Traditional carnitas is a Mexican dish that involves chunks of tender, braised pork that are then crisped up in a frying pan or under the broiler. The resulting shredded meat can be used to stuff tacos, top tostadas, fill burritos, etc., etc.

However, adapting this recipe into Slow Cooker Carnitas is a no-brainer, because cooking the pork in the crockpot is essentially effortless. That being said, I still recommend taking a few additional minutes to complete the final step of caramelizing after crock potting, which sets carnitas apart from regular ol' pulled pork.

Two Mexican Pulled Pork Tacos on a Decorative Plate

While you could certainly just shred up your slow cooked pork and call it a day, spreading it out on a sheet pan and broiling it for a few minutes (along with some of the reduced cooking liquid) makes for an even more delicious final result.


The main ingredients in this Slow Cooker Carnitas recipe is obviously pork...specifically pork butt, AKA shoulder roast.

But speaking of the cooking liquid, it happens to be full of aromatics, including plenty of garlic as well as a whole orange. It also includes a whole onion and, as my longtime friends and family members (and some of my dear readers, by now) can attest, I loathe onions. As in, seriously detest them. So consider it a culinary sacrifice that I decided to try out this recipe with a real, actual onion. I didn't even know how to peel and cut the dang thing, and the only reason I went out on a limb here is because I knew I'd be fishing out the whole onion before commencing with the final dish.

But what do you know? The pork ended up having great flavor, and I didn't even taste the onion. I supposed my taste buds may finally be growing up! Perhaps in about 50 more years I'll be able to bite into a piece of onion without gagging. 😉

In addition to the pork and aromatics, this recipe also includes lime juice, cumin, dried oregano, and bay leaves for flavor, flavor, FLAVOR!



Now back to the recipe! You can gussy up your Slow Cooker Carnitas in any way you like.

  • On this particular day, I kept my tacos simple, with a squeeze of lime, a dollop of sour cream, and a sprinkle of fresh minced cilantro.
  • But they would also be divine topped with generous amounts of cheese, avocado, tomatoes, and salsa.
  • Or you could take a different approach with thinly sliced radishes and minced {shudder} onion.

Along the same lines, I used corn tortillas here, but flour tortillas would also be tasty.

Tacos are very personal...adorn them as you see fit.

Slow Cooker Carnitas Tacos on Decorative Plate Topped with Sour Cream, Chopped Cilantro and a Lime Wedge

Whether you decide to try out these Slow Cooker Carnitas for Cinco de Mayo, or whether Mexican entrees are a staple at your house all year long, I hope you'll keep this recipe in mind for your next taco night. Give it a'll be happy you did! 🙂

To Accompany Your Tacos

Slow Cooker Carnitas Tacos (or Mexican Pulled Pork) ~ perfect for taco night or Cinco de Mayo |

Slow Cooker Carnitas

Slow Cooker Carnitas are braised in an aromatic broth, cubed, and finished off under the broiler, resulting in succulent, caramelized pork that's delicious in tacos or as a filling for burritos, enchiladas, quesadillas, and more!
Course: Main Course
Cuisine: Mexican
Prep Time: 20 minutes
Cook Time: 5 hours
Total Time: 5 hours 20 minutes
Servings: 8 servings
Calories: 286kcal
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  • 3 ½ to 4 pound boneless pork butt (shoulder roast)
  • 1 cup chicken broth OR stock
  • 1 onion, peeled & quartered
  • 5 cloves garlic, minced
  • 2 tablespoons lime juice
  • 2 teaspoons dried cumin
  • 1 teaspoon dried oregano
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 1 orange
  • Salt & freshly ground black pepper, to taste


  • Corn or flour tortillas
  • Lime wedges
  • Sour cream
  • Fresh minced cilantro
  • Shredded cheese
  • Avocado chunks
  • Diced tomatoes
  • Salsa
  • Thinly sliced radishes
  • Minced onion


  • Place pork in large slow cooker. Cover with chicken stock. Add onion, garlic, lime juice, cumin, oregano, and bay leaves to crock pot. Slice orange in half and squeeze juice, which should equal approximately ¼ to ⅓ cup, discarding any seeds. Add orange juice and spent orange halves to crock pot. Sprinkle liberally with freshly ground black pepper and cook on low for 8 to 10 hours (or high for 4 to 5 hours).
  • Once pork is cooked and tender, remove from crock pot to a cutting board. Discard onion quarters, orange halves, and bay leaves, and strain any other solids from cooking liquid (it's okay to leave in the melted fat, as this will keep the carnitas moist). Pour strained liquid into a medium pot. Bring to a simmer and cook for 10 to 15 minutes, or until total amount is reduced to about 1 to 1 ½ cups.
  • In the meantime, adjust the oven rack to the center position and preheat broiler. While broiler is heating, trim fat from pork and discard, then cut pork into 1-inch chunks (it's okay if it somewhat shreds while you do this).
  • Once cooking liquid is reduced, season it generously with salt and pepper, and gently stir liquid into pork chunks. Taste and add more salt and/or pepper, if necessary. Spread pork in an even layer onto a foil-lined baking sheet. Broil in center position of oven for 5 to 10 minutes or until pork begins to brown and the edges turn dark and crispy. Remove pan from oven and use a wide spatula to flip pork, then return to oven for 5 to 10 more minutes to crisp up the other side as well. Serve hot with taco fixings.


  • Cuts of pork can be really confusing. Pork butt is actually a part of the shoulder. It is sometimes called Boston butt. If you are unsure of what to buy, don't hesitate to ask your butcher! My grocery store was out of pork butt when I shopped for this recipe, so I ended up using pork loin, which accounts for the lighter color of the pork in these photos. I recommend using pork butt/shoulder if you can find it, because it will turn out moister. The meat will also end up looking darker than what's pictured in this recipe.
  • If you're in a hurry to eat, you may simply shred your Slow Cooker Carnitas and stir in the desired amount of strained cooking liquids, skipping the steps of reducing the broth and broiling the chunks of pork. Just keep in mind that you won't enjoy the full flavor as enhanced by caramelization!


Calories: 286kcal | Carbohydrates: 5g | Protein: 38g | Fat: 12g | Saturated Fat: 4g | Cholesterol: 119mg | Sodium: 140mg | Potassium: 764mg | Fiber: 1g | Sugar: 2g | Vitamin A: 45IU | Vitamin C: 11.5mg | Calcium: 50mg | Iron: 2.9mg
Made this recipe? I'd love to see on IG!Mention @FiveHeartHome or tag #FiveHeartHome!

Adapted from Cook's Illustrated Cookbook.
Post originally published on May 1, 2014, and updated on May 1, 2021, and April 17, 2023.

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Recipe Rating


  1. 5 stars
    I love how easy this recipe is! Taking the extra step to caramelize the pork at the end made it even tastier. My entire family enjoyed it and we will be adding this to the menu!

  2. I can't wait to try these! I have those exact same plates and bowls as you 🙂 so sad that Target left Canada so fast!

  3. OMG!!! I found you again!
    Your pulled pork is by far the best recipe ever, but I lost it a while back. 🙁 🙁
    For some reason it doesn't "Google-search" well.
    But I found it again after much, MUCH searching through so many others that pale by comparison!!!
    *happy happy dance*
    ^_^ ^_^
    Nom Nom Nom!!! <3 <3

    1. Awww, I'm so happy to hear you found this recipe again, Marsha, and I'm thrilled you enjoy it so much. 🙂 Thanks for the sweet comment and hope you have a great weekend!

  4. I just wanted to let you know you don't have to answer my original question! I re-read your post and saw you use King Arthur! So sorry to bother you with a question you answered before it was asked!

  5. Samantha, these look delicious! I'd love to see you link them up at my Skip The Housework party!

  6. Carnitas are one of my favorite things to eat. Yours look fantastic. And them being in the slow cooker makes them even better 🙂

  7. OH! MY! WORD! Carnitas is my absolute weakness. I can't get enough - I think this will be my new favorite recipe. We will see how long it takes the family to tell me to stop making it- because I may try to use it in every single meal 🙂 No joke - I could eat it all day- everyday.

    1. You and me both, Gina! What's nice about this recipe is that you can use leftovers in a different way for as long as they last...tacos one day, burritos the next, quesadillas the next. As long as your family likes Mexican food and you start with a big hunk of pork, you might not have to cook for a few days! 😉 Hope you're having a great weekend!

  8. A few weeks ago I went to a restaurant that had this type of pork in enchiladas. I could not believe how good it was. Oh my. So good that I made it point to go back a couple of weeks later for the same dish. I normally don't order the same thing twice in a row. The problem with this is, one will never want a Oh Hum hamburger taco again.

    1. This pork is so easy to make, Carol, that you won't even need to make ho hum ground beef tacos again! Actually, they're both delicious in different ways. 😉 But I hope you enjoy these carnitas if you end up trying them!